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Telomere dysfunction cooperates with epigenetic alterations to impair murine embryonic stem cell fate commitment.

Criqui M, Qamra A, Chu TW, Sharma M, Tsao J, Henry DA, Barsyte-Lovejoy D, Arrowsmith CH, Winegarden N, Lupien M, Harrington L

Institut de Recherche en Immunologie et Cancérologie (IRIC), Département de biologie moléculaire, Faculté de Médecine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada.

The precise relationship between epigenetic alterations and telomere dysfunction is still an extant question. Previously, we showed that eroded telomeres lead to differentiation instability in murine embryonic stem cells (mESCs) via DNA hypomethylation at pluripotency-factor promoters. Here, we uncovered that telomerase reverse transcriptase null (Tert) mESCs exhibit genome-wide alterations in chromatin accessibility and gene expression during differentiation. These changes were accompanied by an increase of H3K27me3 globally, an altered chromatin landscape at the Pou5f1/Oct4 promoter, and a refractory response to differentiation cues. Inhibition of the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2), an H3K27 tri-methyltransferase, exacerbated the impairment in differentiation and pluripotency gene repression in Tert mESCs but not wild-type mESCs, whereas inhibition of H3K27me3 demethylation led to a partial rescue of the Tert phenotype. These data reveal a new interdependent relationship between H3K27me3 and telomere integrity in stem cell lineage commitment that may have implications in aging and cancer.

Elife 2020;9.

Pubmed ID: 32297856

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